Rand Paul is the well-known prodigy of America’s most famous, outspoken Libertarian, Ron Paul. The proverbial “Libertarian Candidate” going into the 2016 election, Rand Paul, and his father, have been champions of protecting the privacy and individual rights of citizens. Rand Paul propelled himself into national recognition with his elongated filibuster of the use of drones over American skies to track potential terrorist threats. His opposition to the NSA has been a hallmark of his campaign this year, with repeated claims that the people’s phone and text messages are “none of their damn business” (referring to the Federal Government).
With this track record, it may come as a surprise to many that Rand Paul, in a recent NBC News interview actually spoke his support for the continuation of the NSA. Has Rand Paul flopped on this particular issue? Whether he has or not, how does this affect is presidential aspirations?
Rand Paul’s comments on NBC spoke about his support for the NSA program as a part of America’s anti-terrorism actions. As Rand Paul put it, “… I would have the NSA target their activities more and more towards our enemies”. Going further into the interview, he elaborated on how the NSA has in a sense been bogged down by tracking EVERY AMERICAN and that the NSA would be better operated if it targeted those who are under some form of suspicion. He used the recent Boston Bombers, the Tsarnaev boys, who traveled to Chechnya just prior to their attacks during a city marathon. From his perspective, the NSA missed this activity because it was part of a larger confusing data retrieval effort and that, if they focused their attentions on specific, suspicious targets with suspect patterns of behavior. So the question here is this? Is he flopping on this particular issue?
The political analyst in me would point out that he has to voice some support for a program that has had a somewhat successful track record of preventing attacks on the United States, albeit at the expense of American individual freedom. I believe he is making a logical assessment and providing an appropriate use of our counter-terrorism grid by supporting its LIMITED ability to spy on Americans while still being used to track terrorists or other potential threats to the United States. How this will affect his support in his Libertarian base, who have called for the NSA to be completely dismantled, still remains to be seen.